KUMASI BRANCH HOLDS A VIRTUAL MEETING
The Future of Work
The world has been launched into the era of massive technological change due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, over a decade before virus hit the world in December 2019, massive technological advancement, i.e, the use of artificial intelligence, robotics, outsourcing, and remote working, had gathered great momentum and have affected almost every sector of the economy, thereby negatively impacting the job market. The onslaught of the Coronavirus has therefore brought in its wave, job losses and has threatened the survival of many professionals. For most professionals, the future is uncertain and there is lack of job security.
This has led to several rhetorical questions on the lips of professionals, “How do I continue to remain relevant in the midst of a fast-changing job market?”. In response to this question, the Kumasi branch of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Ghana Chapter held a virtual meeting on the 5th of June, 2020. The meeting was facilitated by Joanna Agyapong-Agyare, The Project Coordinating Director, for The Receivership Projects at PwC Ghana.
The main purpose of the meeting was to ensure that Project Managers and other professionals stay relevant on the job market by understanding the trend of the job market, which has been termed the Fourth Revolution as well as identifying new territories. The following are the main highlights of the presentation.
Automation of jobs has become part of human endeavour. It has gathered momentum in the developed economies and finding its way gradually but steadily into the developing economies. Inasmuch as it is raising a lot of concerns in the area of job losses, it has also come along with tremendous benefits and unimaginable opportunities. Automation has replaced the “codifiable” tasks or the low skill jobs; these are routine tasks that can easily be carried out without human intervention. During this however, high skill jobs are also expected to increase.
Industries where the workforce is rapidly changing and therefore experiencing job losses includes the Industrial, Manufacturing and the Service sectors. Most production process in manufacturing companies are being automated, leading to massive and quick production of items but with less and less human interventions. In most developed countries, automation has taken over and this is this is gradually being adopted by industries in Ghana.
Areas being affected in the Service sector, includes banking and financial services, telecommunication, hospitality and legal services. According to the 2019 World Development Report; Sberbank, the largest bank in the Russian Federation currently make 35% of its loan decision based on Artificial Intelligence, and this is expected to increase to 70% in less than 5 years. Sberbank have also what is known as “Robot Lawyers”, and this has replaced over 3,000 Lawyers. All this point to the fact that the reality of job losses is real as more and more automation is being rolled out.
It is not unusual for a professional to feel overwhelmed by these challenges. However, it is also worth noting that technology has placed in our hands a “world without borders”, with a lot of remote working opportunities. Currently, there are limitless self-development and online training opportunities available with certificates to support the professional person grow and develop in their profession. What professionals need to do is to keep building ourselves up to tap into these opportunities.
The question is, are we preparing ourselves to become globalized local players?, because it will actually take planning, effort, consistency and above all the willingness to pay the price to stay afloat in times like these.
The impact and devastation that COVID-19 has brought on the job scene cannot be underestimated. COVID-19 has served as a catalyst and shattered the status-quo of how work is organized. Although the work scene has been changing before the onset of COVID-19, it has facilitated and reinforced the need for collaboration between man and technology, as technology has become the main medium for delivering work.
Based on this, remote working and virtual teams are the new normal in the corporate world, and from all its intent and purposes, this is likely to remain a permanent feature in the post COVID-19 corporate world. Institutions have come to the realization that remote working and virtual teams backed by technology are more cost effective and convenient than the conventional way of working. The consequences are so obvious for all to see. There is a sudden realisation that jobs are no longer secure, since employers can now achieve almost the same results with fewer human being and physical resources.
The focus now is that, if all these are happening, what steps should the professional take in order to remain relevant, more employable and very resourceful to the industry?
Firstly, as a matter of urgency, professionals should consider upskilling and reskilling. Upskill refers to the acquisition of additional relevant skills crucial for the survival of the industry. Reskill on the other hand means learning new skills that are needed in the current opportunities the system is offering. There is therefore the need to pay critical attention to know the sectors of the economy where these skills are needed.
Secondly, personal development and self-improvement through enhancing of employability skills, is key to survival in times like these. Professionals must improve their self-awareness and identity, unearth and develop all untapped talents and break new frontiers for survival.
Thirdly, there is the need to conduct or undertake personal SWOT Analysis, a comprehensive self-assessment of professional and career strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. All efforts must be garnered to build on strengths, implement strategies to work overcome weaknesses, while exploiting opportunities for growth and development and having the ability to detect threats to job survival.
Furthermore, although technical knowledge is still important, for it be relevant, it must be accompanied by soft skills such as advance cognitive skills, which comprises of problem solving and analytical skills; emotional Intelligence skills, such as perseverance, empathy, adaptability and finally take steps to enhance socio-behavioural skills, such as collaboration, team work and communication.
In conclusion, the times have changed and are still changing; there is therefore the need for every professional to really build their digital fluency, as automation and robots continue to take over the routine tasks. There is the need for continuous adaption to keep to the speed of change that has engulfed the world and this will require agile mind. We should not only depend on the training provided by employers, but we must take personal responsibility for our career development.
Sixty-eight (68) participants took part in the two-hour discussion, with all certified members receiving 2 PDUs.
Presentation by Ms Joanna Agyapong-Agyare, Project Coordinating Director, The Receivership Projects, PwC, Accra, Ghana
2019 World Development Report, The World Bank Group
Project Management Institute (PMI)